Nate Perry, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - There's something special about competing in front of the hometown fans, especially when it's the only chance to do so over the course of the season.
Central Michigan track and field will get that opportunity on Friday when teams from Alma, Davenport, Oakland and Detroit Mercy come to Mount Pleasant to compete in the Jack Skoog Open at the Jack Skoog Indoor Track & Field Complex.
"I think it's really fun for the student-athletes to get to compete in front of their friends, maybe professors, and people who normally don't get to see them compete," said CMU first-year Director of Track and Field Jenny Swieton. "We'll have a lot of parents here too, which always makes it fun."
From the coach's perspective, the meet will also function as a way to measure the Chippewas' physical condition after the long holiday break; CMU has not competed since its Dec. 1-2 indoor opener at Saginaw Valley State.
The student-athletes have been back on campus since Jan. 3, and Swieton said she is optimistic about what she has seen leading up to the meet.
"I think we're in a pretty good space right now," she said. "Some people are a little rusty with not having access to an indoor facility while they were gone, but they definitely did their work and did what they needed to do to stay as fit as possible."
The meet opens with the weight throw at 2:30 p.m. CMU redshirt sophomore Logan Targgart will look to build off of his finish at SVSU, where he placed first in the event with a personal-best 19.11 meters (62 feet, 8 1/2 inches).
Nadia Williams will compete in the long jump at 4 p.m. Williams set her indoor personal best, 5.86 meters (19-2 3/4), at last year's Skoog meet, and is coming off a decisive victory at SVSU.
Swartz Creek native Kevin Weiler will throw in the shot put at 6:45 p.m. The junior's 17.39-meter toss at SVSU won the event in impressive fashion.
Running events will start with the mile run at 5 p.m.
Junior Samantha Cuneo is scheduled to compete in the women's 400-meter run at approximately 5:54 p.m. This will be the first outing of the season for the defending Mid-American Conference indoor champion.
Swieton knows that a home meet like the Skoog can bring a lot of excitement and fanfare, but her focus remains on staying grounded through the early stages of the indoor season.
"The biggest thing is that it's the first meet in January," she said. "So, we're just trying to see where we're at. This is just the beginning, and we're focused on getting better as the season goes along."
Adding to the festivities at this year's meet will be recognition ceremonies for alumni as well as the CMU senior athletes.
First, at 6:57 p.m., the 2003 CMU men's outdoor MAC Championship team - the first Chippewa team to win a MAC track & field championship - will be honored on the 15-year anniversary of its triumph.
That will be followed immediately by a commemorative banner presentation for 12 CMU All-Americans from the 1950s-70s.
The list of honorees: Ed VanderHeuvel, 1959; David Myers, 1961; Rob Johnson, 1969; Ralph Baker, 1969; Tom Miller, 1969; Bob Carpenter, 1970-71; Jon Costello, 1971; Dave Derr, 1971; Mike Winsor, 1976; Bruno Pauletto, 1977-78; Barry Alexia, 1978; and Steve Banovic, 1978.
The observance of CMU's senior athletes and their families is tentatively scheduled for 8:25 p.m.